We spend the weekend at a cottage-by-the-lake, not a cottage-by-the-sea. I’m drawn more to the ocean than to inland water, but I must be very grateful to have opportunities to enjoy silence, solitude, and simplicity at both. Here’s a second-hand opportunity to sit by Lake Dunmore in Vermont.
The other day I received an email from a women who had randomly come across my blog. She asked if there was a way to follow it through a link that would let her know when I had posted. My short answer was no.
But that got me thinking about the nuances involved in keeping up a blog. I started this blog in 2009 during one of my first days at the cottage by the sea. This fall will be the blog’s tenth anniversary. I’ve been quite consistent in posting, and feel it is still vibrant, well, as vibrant as I want it to be.
I used to offer a daily quote, but that feature now appears every other day. I post every few days, sometimes less often, and usually every day when I’m traveling. I’ve added “Compassionate Reading,” “Secrets of an Old Woman,” and “A Solitary Traveler.”
The blog is what I want it to be; I feel very little pressure to post. Rather, I post because I have something to say, and I trust that my thoughts support others. I say trust, because I don’t often hear from my readers, as I did Susan. I deeply appreciated the affirmation, but what keeps me going is deeply knowing that my readers and I are benefitting from the silence, solitude, and simplicity that we are experiencing together. I don’t know who most of you are, but I am given the statistic that last week I had 1,798 ‘unique visitors’—whatever than precisely means!!
Yesterday I made a list of things I needed to buy the next time I go to the mall: rubber spatula, potholders, and plastic/vinyl placemats. Then I recalled a recent headline in the Boston Globe—something about all the stuff we hoard. “I don’t hoard,” I tell myself!
Back to my list.
• Spatula: I don’t need a new one. The one I have is more than adequate, even with its few nicks.
• Potholders: I do need new ones. The ones I am currently using have holes and my figures are getting burned.
• Placemats: I don’t need new ones. I have a chest full, in fact, enough to last for our life time, in fact I hoard them. I may not be able to wipe them clean, but I can throw them in the washing machine
Here’s my current, personal definition of hoarding: having more than I need, not using what I have, and buying more to stash away, to hoard.
My usual way of getting rid of stuff is by giving or throwing it away. I have my usual places: trash can, ‘put-and-take’, church fair, Salvation Army, gifting, and now a new one—using it myself, use it up. I love this new simplicity.
Cataract surgery on my right eye went well. I can definitely notice the brightness, and clarity of vision is coming back. Follow up with the doctor affirmed all of this. So there it is, my brief medical report, which I realize is barely medical and hardly a report.
Instead I offer you a report on the silence, solitude and simplicity that I experience, for, after all, that is what this blog is about.
The surgical facility, which is affiliated with Mass Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School, is located west of Boston, about twenty five minutes from my home. The patients rooms and medical equipment are clean, spacious, and light. Except for the twenty minutes in surgery, I lay on what felt like comfortable shays lounge while kind and comforting aides, nurses and doctors tended to my needs.
There was plenty of time to relax, to meditate, and to BE, and the atmosphere was conducive to just that. What came over me, as the chatter in my head dissipated and judgments disappeared, was a sense of peace. Why all the fuss in the world? Let’s just love everyone. I knew those were simplistic thoughts and that Id be having to make decisions and workout situations as soon as I walked out to the car, but for that moment those thoughts were pure, honest, and hopeful, and I believed I had the opportunity to be more loving and less fearful out the world.
That aura of peace is still with me That is what I think silence, solitude and simplicity is all about.
Tomorrow at 11 A.M. I am having cataract surgery. I’m not nervous about it but it is a rather new experience for me. I’ve had very little personal medical experience--a couple of colonoscopies, surgery for Dupuytren's Contracture (hand), and giving birth to my two children. Very lucky, very grateful.
Thankfully, leading up to tomorrow, I’ve felt surrounded by silence, solitude, and simplicity, which I sum up in one word: calm. A series of eye drops, delivering brownies to a friend, a good book, and asking friends for prayers--that’s been it today.
I watched the entire Mueller hearing and then kept glued to the commentary that followed. I’m glad I did, at least the live Mueller part. Glad because I wanted to form my own opinion, which I know will be important as history moves forward.
That being said, I also learned that too much news keeps me out of balance. At the end of the day I was numb; I couldn’t more on; I couldn’t read my book. I was thankful when it was time to go to bed, even though of course I didn’t sleep well.
TV disrupts the silence, solitude, and simplicity that I long for and that on most days I pay serious attention to. My TV watching marathon on Wednesday taught me about the balance I want in my life, but it also signaled that I probably need to get out of balance in order to appreciate it.
A few evenings ago we experienced a microburst, a mini-hurricane. The intensity lasted about a minute, then rain, then it stopped, and then the ball game began.
Only a few little branches fell in our yard, but not so in the neighborhood. On my walk the next day branches covered the walkway and it looked like the five trees that split open and fell in one yard missed the house. I call it a miracle.
In the aftermath of such a microburst, I’m thinking that any tree or branch still standing will be given a reprieve when the next storm appears.
One of the constants in my life is reading. Constant when silence, solitude, and simplicity are interrupted in small or big ways, and constant when all is calm. There is always a book on the table. Of the books i took out the other day on Touch a Truck Day, I’ve read two, discarded two, kept one, and taken out another. For me this is easy joy because I live across from the library. But wherever I might live in town, it would be an easy drive. Not so in the city; carrying five or six books home on public transportation would be a challenge.
Then there is the beautiful truth that libraries are free. I’m aware that my library habit doesn’t support the economy the way that book buying does, but with all these freedoms, I read more .
Retreat into a book and you’ll always have a hold on silence, solitude, and simplicity.
What a surprise to see that this is my first post of the month. It’s been busy here at Camp Fisher but now things are back to our usual silent, solitary, and simple routine. July 4th festivities and company have departed. All good. In fact they make this quiet time more precious and appreciated. I definitely like a change of pace.
Earlier this morning, from our open widows, I could hear the whistle of the little train at Truck Day over at the library. Well, when we took our grandkids it was called “Truck Day,” but now it’s “Touch a Truck Day.”
I just went over; took a few pictures outside, and a few books from inside--random books from the stacks. New books don’t seem to appeal to me these days. Maybe it’s because the characters are younger than me—younger by many, many years. Maybe I want stories set back when I was younger. Regardless, I wanted a good novel so I pulled a book from the shelf, read the dust cover, and made a choice. I came home with five.
I’m very grateful for libraries and that I live within hearing and seeing distance of one.
With the onset of summer, many of us will be having visitors and perhaps doing some visiting ourselves. How can we experience silence, solitude, and simplicity during these times, when, as in my case, family is coming for a week? To begin with, my family is easy and pretty much tension free, which makes it a exponentially easier to tap into the silence, solitude, and simplicity that is deep within us. But we have to be able to that regardless of the circumstances.
There are practical things we can do, which may be enough: carve out times for silence and solitude, and plan simple meals. All this sound so obvious, which it is, and yet I need such a reminder so unnecessary frenzy doesn’t develop.
One more thing, your visitors will welcome some silence and solitude, and appreciate that you, as hostess, are keeping it simple.
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